It is important to remember these guidelines when selecting and installing a child safety seat:
- It must be appropriate for your child’s age, height and weight.
- It must fit tightly into your vehicle and not move more than 1 inch from side to side and front to back at the belt path.
- The back seat is the best place for the child safety seat.
- Use either the vehicle’s seat belt OR the vehicle’s LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) to secure the child’s safety seat (never use both). See RESOURCES below for more information.
- Airbags deploy at the speed of a Category 5 hurricane and can cause serious injury or death. Never put infants or children younger than 13 years of age in the front seat with an active airbag.
- Always refer to the child safety seat instructions and vehicle manufacturer’s instructions for weight limits, proper use and installation.
- Avoid seats that are too old. All manufacturers are required to include the model number and manufacture date on each seat they produce. It can be found on a label attached to the restraint usually on the bottom or the side of the seat. Most manufacturers recommend replacing any child safety seat over 6 years old.
- New child safety seats have a registration card. Register your child’s safety seat with the manufacturer so you can be notified of any recall. To register, mail your registration card to the manufacturer, or register on the manufacturer’s website. Specific manufacturer websites to register your child’s safety seat can be found at: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/recalls/register/childseat/index.cfm
- Rolled up receiving blankets can be used on either side of an infant to provide support. Position receiving blankets from the top of the hips to the top of the head to provide support. Do not put rolled receiving blankets underneath the child’s head/neck.
- The top of a child’s head should be no closer than one inch to the top of the plastic shell (rear-facing seat/convertible seat only). Coverings may exceed the top of the plastic shell.
- Child safety seats should be positioned at the appropriate angle. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the correct angle for the child seat you are using.
- Some child safety seats provide shoulder pads that can be added to the shoulder straps. If used, the pads must be properly positioned on top of the child’s shoulders.
- Children should never wear backpacks in the vehicle. Backpacks can limit the effectiveness of the restraint system.
||TYPE OF SEAT
||Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats
||All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight and height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. Harness straps should come out the seat back at, or below the top of the shoulders. Avoid an upright angle position of the seat which could force the child’s head to tilt forward and obstruct breathing. Check manufacturer’s directions for the recommended seat angle which is usually 30-45 degrees.
||Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses
||All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for the car safety seat, should use a Forward-Facing Car Safety Seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. Shoulder straps should come out of the seat back at, or above the top of the shoulders. The mid-point of the back of the head should not be above the top of the plastic shell.
||Booster seats or Combination Seat
||All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age. A combination seat is at type of forward-facing restraint that is used with an internal harness stem to secure a child up to 40 pounds or higher, and then, with the removal of the internal harness, is used as a high-back, belt positioning booster (BPB) seat. Combination seats cannot be used rear-facing. Always use the lap/shoulder belt with booster seats. The lap belt should be snug across the child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the center top of the shoulder and snug across the chest.
|CHILDREN LESS THAN 4 FEET 9 INCHES BUT TOO BIG FOR AN INTERNAL HARNESS
||High-back and No-back booster seats should be used for a child who has outgrown a child safety seat with internal harnesses and is not tall enough (less than 4 feet 9 inches tall) for the vehicle seat belt system. The No-back booster raises the child to a height required for a proper fit of the seat belt. The vehicle’s seat belt should be used to secure the child and should fit snug across the child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the center top of the shoulder and snug across the chest.
||When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone (typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8-12 years of age), they should always use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection. An indicator the child is ready to use the car’s seat belt is when the child is sitting straight against the back of the vehicle seat and his knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat. The car’s seat belt should be snug across the child's upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the center top of the shoulder and snug across the chest. The child should have head and neck protection with an adjustable head restraint.
All children younger than 13 years of age should be restrained with the car’s seat belt in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
** Please see below for the new child restraint / booster law going into effect January 1, 2015.
The Does and Don’ts With Shoulder Straps
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) is an alternative way of securing the child safety seat. Both vehicle safety belt and LATCH are equally safe as long as the child safety seat is installed correctly and fits securely in the vehicle. For more information about how to install a child safety seat, visit: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/LATCH. Always follow the safety seat manufacturer’s and vehicle’s guidelines.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates child safety seats on how easy they are to properly install, provides laws and regulations, and provides recall information. For more information, visit: www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS.
- A certified child passenger safety technician can check the installation of your child safety seat and answer questions. To find a technician or an inspection station near you visit NHTSA’s website.
- If your child’s safety seat has been in a vehicle that was involved in a crash, check your child safety seat manufacturer’s recommendations for replacement, or call the toll-free number on the side of the child safety seat.
- For more information on state child restraint laws, visit the following web site: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) at: www.iihs.org/laws/childrestraint.aspx.
- The link to the Lee/Collier Safe Kids Coalition website for a complete list of car safety inspection locations in English and Spanish at: http://www.safekidsleecollier.org/index.html
With all seats, the harness clip should be fastened at the middle of the chest and level with the armpits. The straps should be snug, straight and flat. If you try to pinch the strap between the shoulders and the harness clip, your fingers should slide off.
How Do I Get a Car Seat Checked or Installed?
- Rear-facing infant seat: at or below the shoulders, harness clip at armpits
- Rear-facing convertible seat: at or below the shoulders, harness clip at armpits
- Forward-facing convertible seat: at or above the shoulders, harness clip at armpits
- Forward-facing only seat: in the top notch, harness clip at armpit level
The Iona McGregor Fire District’s State certified car seat technician is Lauri McMahon. You can make an appointment by calling (239) 425-9316. Installations or seat checks are free of charge.
Florida Statutes, Section 316.613 - Child Restraint Requirements
(1)(a) Every operator of a motor vehicle as defined in this section, while transporting a child in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets, or highways of this State, shall, if the child is 5 years of age or younger, provide for protection of the child by properly using a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
1. For children aged through 3 years, such restraint device must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer's integrated child seat.
2. For children aged 4 through 5 years, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a child booster seat may be used.
However, the requirement to use a child restraint device under this subparagraph does not apply when a safety belt is used as required in s. 316.614 (4)(a) and the child:
a. Is being transported gratuitously by an operator who is not a member of the child's immediate family;
b. Is being transported in a medical emergency situation involving the child; or
c. Has a medical condition that necessitates an exception as evidenced by appropriate documentation from a health care professional.
(5) Any person who violates this section commits a moving violation, punishable as provided in Chapter 318 and shall have 3 points assessed against his or her driver license as set forth in Section 322.27. In lieu of the penalty specified in Section 318.18 and the assessment of points, a person who violates this section may elect, with the court's approval, to participate in a child restraint safety program approved by the Chief Judge of the circuit in which the violation occurs, and, upon completing such program, the penalty specified in Chapter 318 and associated costs may be waived at the court's discretion and the assessment of points shall be waived. The child restraint safety program must use a course approved by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the fee for the course must bear a reasonable relationship to the cost of providing the course.
Section 2. This act shall take effect January 1, 2015.